TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Widespread in-person learning will begin a couple of weeks, but are students ready to be in the classroom? Local psychotherapist Dr. Diane Ryan with Downtown Therapy says they are already behind.
Dr. Ryan tells KGUN9 that although the impact of the pandemic has been felt far and wide, it has affected kids the most.
“Teenagers and school-aged kids have probably suffered in a number of ways that are just only becoming apparent currently,” she added.
She says the lack of interaction has led to underdevelopment in crucial social skills.
“Same age peer interactions are important. We have to have each-other to bounce ideas off of and bounce experiences off of. We look to each other to kind of process what’s happening. We really can’t do that in isolation. We’re not built that way,” Dr. Ryan told KGUN9.
These are examples of socialization skills that have been missing from kids’ learning during a year of remote learning.
“The need for kids to be with other kids is absolutely critical and I think kids are really suffering and struggling because they haven’t had that over the course of the pandemic,” she added.
Parents have been noticing this, too. Dr. Ryan says she’s already received an increase in referrals to work with their children.
“Pretty much therapists are finding themselves very booked up,” she added.
She says as schools begin to reopen, there will be kids that will struggle.
“I think there’s going to be more anxiety, more depression, some insomnia. You know there’s going to be some mental health consequences of what kids are going to experience as they move forward,” Dr. Ryan told KGUN9.
Which is why parents, now, more than ever, need to play a significant role in making sure their children develop social skills and don’t fall through the cracks.
“Be patient and watch for changes in behavior. Watch for sleep. Watch for eating. And just try to check in with them and see how they're doing and just try to keep the lines of communication open,” she added.
While she says the pandemic has brought a setback in kids’ social skills, she says they are resilient and able to bounce back.
“Kids don't have great memories for how things used to be and they’re pretty adaptable and able to be flexible. Especially when they see it’ll be much more fun for them. So, I’m excited for them to get back to normal routines and normal interactions,” Dr. Ryan told KGUN9.